Best Raspberry Pi Pico Accessories and Add-Ons 2024

Cytron Maker Pi Pico
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When the Raspberry Pi Pico arrived in January 2021, few realised just how popular the $4 microcontroller would become. In a move which disrupted the status quo, Raspberry Pi released its own microcontroller, the RP2040 and partnered with Arduino, Adafruit, Pimoroni and SparkFun to release a plethora of different boards based around this chip. The chip shortage didn't impact the RP2040. In fact Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton was quoted as saying there is a near infinite supply of the RP2040. The abundance of RP2040 means it rapidly became popular with makers integrating the chip into ever more outlandish projects. Who can blame the savvy makers for choosing a powerful $1 SoC that is actually in stock. Since launch we have seen the RP2040 power a myriad of boards and projects but to get the most out of the $4 microcontroller we need to get the right accessories.

In June 2022, Raspberry Pi released the follow-up, the Raspberry Pi Pico W which brings Wi-Fi (and now Bluetooth) to the Pico form factor, for just $6. The Pico and Pico W share the same GPIO pinout, which means you can use many of the same accessories in your Pico W projects.

The Raspberry Pi Pico is powerful enough for basic to intermediate maker projects. Projects that would traditionally be powered by Raspberry Pi Zero, such as robotics and science experiments and IoT enabled devices. We'd go as far as saying that for basic GPIO projects, the Raspberry Pi Pico series are better than a typical Raspberry Pi. To build projects with the Raspberry Pi Pico we need a few extra components. Luckily, just like with the regular Raspberry Pi which has an enormous selection of accessories, an entire ecosystem of accessories has emerged, with new products arriving on a weekly basis. The range of accessories can be broken down into the following groups:

  • Add on boards which connect to the GPIO of the Pico and provide extra functionality such as wireless communications, LCD screens and RGB LEDs.
  • Shields / Bases / Shim that provide interfaces for extra components.
  • Expanders that provide extra GPIO pins for use with multiple addons at once.
  • All-in-one boards which breakout the Raspberry Pi Pico to a larger form factor featuring many additional features not found on the Pico. An example being Pimoroni's Pico W Aboard range, such as PicoVision.
  • Breakout boards for the RP2040 chip, enabling anyone to integrate the RP2040 into their own boards.
  • Project specific boards that are used for specialist projects such as robotics or machine learning.

These are the best Raspberry Pi Pico accessories. No matter what your needs or project, you’ll definitely want some of these products to enhance your builds.

Best Raspberry Pi Pico Accessories You Can Buy Today

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Easily build your next Pico project with this board.

Reasons to buy

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Accessible
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Easy to use
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Tidy wiring

Reasons to avoid

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Grove components are more expensive
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Not all of the GPIO pins are broken out via Grove connectors

When learning electronics and coding we have lots to take on board, but what if we could simplify the electronics a little? Seeed’s Grove Shield, retailing for $4 has been designed to do just that. It provides a series of Grove connectors, designed to work with Grove components that we can simply connect using the keyed connectors and start building projects. 

Seeed’s universe of Grove components includes dozens of products, ranging from microphones to thermal cameras and motor drivers. Grove works with Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Pico so your investment in the format is not locked to just one machine. If you already have Grove components and want to delve into the Raspberry Pi Pico, then the Seeed Grove Shield is a worthwhile investment.

Read: Seeed Grove Shield for Pico review

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A simple, but engaging LED matrix lights up your Raspberry Pi Pico.

Reasons to buy

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Easy to install
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Simple MicroPython library
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Great fun to code

Reasons to avoid

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Blocks access to the GPIO

Neopixels are a maker's favorite means to make things “blink”. They can be any color, communicate data and even be used to build basic games. Pimoroni’s Pico Unicorn features 112 RGB LEDs and four push buttons all in a neat “pack” that fits to the GPIO pins of the Raspberry Pi Pico.

Using the Pico Unicorn will block access to the GPIO, but you have to admit, it looks great. Programming the Pico Unicorn is possible via C/C++, MicroPython and CircuitPython. We tested the Pico Unicorn with a series of fast animations, including a "disco" mode which changed the color of a random pixel as quickly as possible.

The Pico Unicorn is one of the best Raspberry Pi Pico add-ons because it is a simple and gentle introduction to using add-ons with your Raspberry Pi Pico. The MicroPython module is straightforward and the immediate results will captivate the imagination of eager coders.

Read: Pimoroni Pico Unicorn review

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This $6 board gives you the GPIO pins you’ll need.

Reasons to buy

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Low cost
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Ease of use
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Access to thousands of HATs

Reasons to avoid

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You will need to use the included reference card
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Header pins too short if used with removable Pico

One of the best Raspberry Pi Pico accessories for maximizing your parts library, the Red Robotics Pico 2 Pi lets you use of accessories designed for the Raspberry Pi by providing the same 40-pin GPIO layout you find on regular Raspberry Pis. Pico 2 Pi can be used with a surface soldered Pico, or with the optional header to enable easy removal of your Pico.

The Pico 2 Pi adaptor has the same footprint as a Raspberry Pi Zero W and we can easily secure HATs and pHATs to the 40 pin GPIO and the M2.5. We tested Pico 2 Pi with a range of boards and the simpler boards “just worked”, but the more complex a board, the more work there is to make the software work.

In use, the Pico 2 Pi Adaptor is simple; it merely breaks out the Pico’s GPIO pins into a Raspberry Pi compatible pinout. It isn’t a hugely technical device, and that is what we love about it, a simple fix for a simple issue.

Read: Red Robotics Pico 2 Pi review

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4. Pimoroni Omnibus / Pico Decker

Expand your Pico possibilities.

Reasons to buy

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Use multiple add ons with Pico
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Pre-soldered

Reasons to avoid

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Conflicting GPIO pins

Pimoroni’s Omnibus (dual) and Pico Decker (quad) expanders are designed to work with Pimoroni’s “Pack” add on boards, some of which are among the best Raspberry Pi Pico accessories. If you want to use multiple packs with your Pico, these extenders are simple breakouts, with no extra tech, just the same pins broken out to multiple headers.

The simplicity of the Omnibus / Pico Decker does highlight one issue; boards sometimes share GPIO pins and, if that is the case, then you may encounter issues. If you are using I2C or SPI, there are no issues as these protocols use addresses to identify devices. But for simpler connections, such as basic digital IO and boards that rely on PWM on certain pins, there will be difficult decisions to be made.

The pros far outweigh the cons and these expanders are essential for working with multiple packs, and for hacking the GPIO of a running device.

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An IPS screen no larger than a pack of gum.

Reasons to buy

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Low cost
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Easy to use
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Crisp display

Reasons to avoid

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Lose access to GPIO pins

This is a small IPS LCD screen on a microcontroller no bigger than a stick of gum; let that sink in! Pimoroni’s Pico Display is a 1.14 inch 240 x 135 pixel IPS LCD screen flanked by four pushbuttons and a single RGB LED. It connects to all 40 pins of the Raspberry Pi Pico’s GPIO but in reality it uses only a few, so it would work great with Pimoroni’s Omnibus and Pico Decker expanders.

Writing code for the Pico Display is via MicroPython or C/C++ and, for our tests, we wrote a simple project to scroll text across the screen, randomly changing the color of the text and RGB to match. We then added a few more lines to read input from the buttons and trigger different actions.

The MicroPython library is easy to use. Just make sure that you get a feel for it before creating a complex project. The Pimoroni Pico Display comes pre-soldered and you can have a project working in just a few minutes. If you are interested in rendering video and graphics with your Raspberry Pi Pico, then the Pico Display is the best Raspberry Pi Pico add-on for the task.

Read: Pimoroni Pico Display review

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The ideal way to build your Raspberry Pi Pico projects.

Reasons to buy

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Low cost
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Easy to use
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Lots of extra features
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Inline LEDs
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Grove connectors

Reasons to avoid

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ESP-01 needs extra work

Spend just $10 for a complete electronics learning platform, including a Raspberry Pi Pico? That is the immense value offered by Cytron’s Maker Pi Pico and it is why it is one of the best Raspberry Pi Pico accessories that you can get. Embedded in the center of the Maker Pi Pico is a Raspberry Pi Pico, and the surrounding board has pre-connected breakouts for every GPIO pin, many connected to extra components such as a microSD card reader, audio output / buzzer and a series of Grove connectors, the same as those used on Seeed’s Grove Shield which enable fast and simple electronic circuit development.

Programmable via C/C++, MicroPython or CircuitPython, we found that the Maker Pi Pico is easy to work with and the plethora of embedded components on offer is astounding. Of great interest in an ESP01 header used to connect an ESP8266 to the board for basic WiFi. At the time of the review, this interface was still experimental but it seems that using some Arduino libraries, the Maker Pi Pico can now be part of an IoT project. Further adding to the value offered by this great board.

Read: Cytron Maker Pi Pico review

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Machine Learning comes to the Pico.

Reasons to buy

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Simple instructions
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Quick results
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Compatible with many boards

Reasons to avoid

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Needs C/C++ knowledge
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Lens is unprotected

The Raspberry Pi Pico is not the first thing that comes to mind for Machine Learning projects, but thanks to TinyML, designed for microcontrollers, the 133 MHz CPU of the Raspberry Pi Pico is capable of basic image recognition and, with the Uctronics TinyML Learning Kit, we have a 2MP SPI camera which can be used with a trained model to identify objects or even people.

In use, the 2MP camera runs at 1 FPS which may not sound like much but it is around 10x faster than an Arduino. Machine Learning with the RP2040 processor is set to be a big thing and that’s why this kit is one of the best Raspberry Pi Pico accessories.

Read: Uctronics TinyML Learning Kit review

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8. Pimoroni Pico RGB Keypad

The easy Pico powered Stream Deck.

Reasons to buy

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RGB keypad
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Quiet buttons, useful for streams

Reasons to avoid

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Rubbery buttons

Building a Stream deck with Raspberry Pi Pico is incredibly simple thanks to CircuitPython but wiring up the buttons can be such a chore. Ready-made solutions such as Pimoroni’s Pico RGB Keypad provide a simple means to achieve our goals. Providing 16 inputs, each with their own RGB LED, this board requires a Raspberry Pi Pico (sold separately) and just a little CircuitPython code to create a simple deck. The board can be coded in MicroPython, but at the time of writing there is no USB HID library available for that programming language.The Pico RGB Keypad comes as a kit which is held in place with four screws. The Raspberry Pi Pico is at the far end of the keypad, on show for all to see which is both a pro and con depending on your point of view.

As a cheap and easy to use Stream Deck, the Pico RGB Keypad is a great Raspberry Pi Pico accessory. But for a little more money you can get the upcoming Keybow 2040.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Easy Pico Projects

Reasons to buy

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Onboard battery support
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Good GPIO breakout
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Lego compatible

Reasons to avoid

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Micro USB is only for charging

$10 is not a lot of money for something so fun. Elecfreaks’ WuKong 2040 works with the Raspberry Pi Pico and Pico W and provides a great platform for robotics. Being Lego compatible we can embed it into a Lego creation, then use motors and sensors to bring a project to life.

An onboard Lithium battery holder and charger means that our projects can be truly mobile. It works with any Pico compatible programming language, and while we don’t get every GPIO pin, what we get is enough for many. Embedded RGB LEDs, buzzer and four motor terminals means that we can make a great robot with very little effort.

Read: Elecfreaks WuKong 2040 Review 

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Adds a screen, buzzer, motor drive and more to Raspberry Pi Pico.

Reasons to buy

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Well laid out
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Good size
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Plenty of features

Reasons to avoid

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Software library is still work in progress
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No mounting holes

The $30 Pimoroni Pico Explorer is an “embedded circuit experimental arena” which offers a series of GPIO pins, a small LCD screen, dual motor outputs and two breakouts compatible with Breakout Garden boards. The goal of the Pico Explorer Base is to be a place for experimentation with electronic components, a goal shared with the Explorer HAT range of boards for the Raspberry Pi.

Our Raspberry Pi Pico sits proudly in the corner of the board, and we see a GPIO breakout for the GPIO pins of the Pico, and for the onboard DRV8833 motor controller, so yes you can build a robot with this board! The onboard LCD screen is similar to that found on the Pico Display, and it uses the same software library. Two Breakout Garden slots enable use of Pimoroni’s breakout boards, essentially I2C / SPI boards designed to “just work” with the board.

The extra cost of the Pico Explorer versus Cytron’s Maker Pi Pico is justified given the motor controller, screen and breakouts. If you are just starting with the Raspberry Pi Pico, the Pico Explorer is one of the best Raspberry Pi Pico accessories that will grow as your skills do.

Read: Pimoroni Pico Explorer Base review

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Electronics learning platform

Reasons to buy

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Very easy to use
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Great selection of components
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Components can be used as is, or broken out
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Excellent learning resources
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GPIO pin labels

Reasons to avoid

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No LEDs on Pico GPIO footprint
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Guide book is mainly for Windows users

Learning to write code for microcontrollers can be difficult. There are times where we need to debug hardware and software issues. So what if learners had an easier entry into the hobby?

We’ve covered other boards that offer a learning platform, Pico Bricks was the previous best attempt, but Cytron’s Edu Pico is just that little bit better. Everything is pre-wired, but we can easily breakout the components to be integrated into a build.

A great selection of components, backed up by an excellent reference guide and clever selection of hint cards that offer quick tips and code snippets that get your creative juices flowing. In a classroom environment, this little board will inspire and ignite imaginations.

Read: Edu Pico Review

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The ideal maker playground

Reasons to buy

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Pinout on PCB
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Low cost Ease of use
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Upgradable Pico module
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Lots of features 

Reasons to avoid

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Honestly, nothing.

We already loved Cytron’s Maker Pi Pico, but the Robo Pico takes all the best bits from that board, and adds even more, for very little money! Compatible with the Raspberry Pi Pico and the Raspberry Pi Pico W, Robo Pico provides full access to the GPIO and a selection of built in features. We have onboard LEDs, NeoPixels, buttons, buzzer  and motor terminal. With this board and a Raspberry Pi Pico, we can make our own robotic creations.

There are many ports on offer, and we don’t need to break out a soldering iron. We have both Grove and Maker Port (Stemma QT) compatible interfaces, ready for makers of any age to start creating. Starting from $15 for a bare board, Robo Pico is a low cost and fully featured robotics platform for all makers. By providing an easy to use platform, free of complexity, the board is an excellent choice for educators and makers alike.

Read: Cytron Robo Pico Review 

Les Pounder

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".